A bold group of mothers gave a new meaning to the term 'flash mob' when they bared their breasts at a major shopping centre today to raise awareness of breastfeeding.
More than a hundred mothers of all ages - some accompanied by their partners - descended on the Trafford Centre in Manchester to feed their babies in front of stunned shoppers to promote the start of NHS-backed National Breastfeeding Awareness Week.
The proud women bore all in full view of customers sitting in the shopping centre cafes to highlight the health benefits of breastfeeding.
A stunned onlooker said: 'It's not every day you see that many breasts while out doing your shopping. I suppose it's a good way of getting people to listen to the message. I fully support them.'
The Trafford Centre is backing National Breastfeeding Awareness Week 2011 - which runs from Sunday 19th to Saturday 25th June, backed by the NHS Infant Breastfeeding Services - and has recently refurbished its breastfeeding facilities for shoppers.
One mother, Jade Fitzmartin, 18, from Atherton, Greater Manchester, said: 'It's great to get together for such a good cause as we all know how important breastfeeding is. The flash mob was a really exciting thing to be part of, although in normal circumstances I would probably prefer to use the breastfeeding facilities here.
'All new mums should take it seriously as an option when midwives and health visitors discuss it with them.'
Organiser of the flash mob event, Alison Healey, Breastfeeding Coordinator at NHS Ashton, Leigh and Wigan, said there were a number of advantages linked to choosing to breastfeed.
These included a lowered likelihood of common health complaints in babies such as diarrhoea, ear and chest infections and eczema and an improved immune system.
'The likelihood of a healthy life for babies is greatly enhanced by parents choosing to breastfeed instead of feeding their baby with formula milk.
'When a new mum chooses to breastfeed she is also greatly benefitting her own health as it can also help her to lose the weight she might have gained in pregnancy and lower the risk of some cancers.
'New mums should feel proud of their decision to breastfeed and know that they can get support from their local Midwives and Health Visitors.'
Gordon McKinnon, Director of Operations at The Trafford Centre, said: 'We're a family friendly centre, which means we're fully supportive of mums who make the decision to breastfeed. If they require a comfortable, private space in which to feed their child we have four sets of dedicated facilities including our new Laura Ashley-designed breastfeeding suite, but we consider most public spaces appropriate and our retailers are equally understanding.'